It’s the time of year when moose encounters in Red Deer’s park system will be on the rise as mating season gets underway.
Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, said the likelihood of a negative interaction is also more likely in the fall.
“The rut is on now. Moose are wholly fixed on finding a mate and mating. That makes them a little blind to other things and it makes them territorially aggressive,” said Nivens who warns Red Deerians not to get between a male and a female moose.
“It’s never ever a good idea to have a close interaction with a wild animal, but especially at this time of year and especially with moose. This is absolutely the time of year you want as much distance between you and the animal as possible.”
He said trying to scare a moose away doesn’t work, so if someone ends up in the direct path of a moose, they should put a tree or something heavy between themselves and the moose.
“The big ones are upwards of 1,500 pounds. They don’t slow down and they don’t change direction really well. The best tactic is to stay out of their way.”
Motorists should also be on alert. Moose are tall which means a vehicle will collide with an animal’s legs and their body will smash onto or into the passenger compartment, he said.
“You’ve got more animals in close proximity to each other. Be vigilant and be aware they are out there.”
Nivens did not know how many moose are living in Red Deer. Typically three to five moose feed at Kerry Wood Nature Centre in late fall and into winter. Only one male has been spotted on video, along with tracks and scat from others, so this year they are congregating elsewhere. A food supply and instinct to breed is what brings them together. Moose sightings in Three Mile Bend, Clearview and Timberlands have been made over the past few weeks.
“Any place you can be in the park system, moose and deer can be as well,” Nivens said.
But as long as people give wildlife space, Nivens encouraged residents to enjoy the wildlife in their city.
“We’re an incredibly lucky population,” he said.
“We’ve got this city that sits in amongst a jewel of a park system, and a ton of naturalized space, and it does bring us into close proximity with wildlife. There’s no reason we can’t have positive interactions with these animals. They just have to happen at a distance and through binoculars and camera lens.”